28th October 2020How to avoid a last minute panic when filing your tax return

Ahead of the paper self-assessment deadline, 31st October 2020, HW Fisher share their advice to make sure you file on time and correctly.

Confused about whether you need to file?

Self-employment and side hustles are continuing to rise during these uncertain times. However, it’s not just these individuals who have to complete self-assessment tax returns, so it is worth double checking if you’re unsure.

Anyone who during the year ended 5 April 2020 was self-employed, had received high levels of investment income or has capital gains tax to pay must complete a self-assessment return. Broadly, you must submit a tax return if you have received untaxed income over £1,000 during the tax year. You may also have to file if you have generated income from renting out a property, including through Airbnb.

The paper deadline is a Saturday this year, so it is worth finding out if you need to file before this date as well as collate all the relevant paperwork during the week, to avoid dealing with any last-minute curveballs on the weekend.

This list is by no means exhaustive; if you aren’t sure whether you need to complete a paper tax return, please seek professional advice or contact HMRC directly

How to complete on time and avoid any last-minute surprises  

  1. Ensure you claim all Job related expenses which are approved by HMRC. In particular, a flat rate deduction of £4 per week can be claimed for those of you who worked from home during the tax year.
  2. Pension contributions: Make sure you keep details of any pension contributions made to allow you to claim the right tax relief for them.
  3. Gift aid payments: you will also need details of all your gift aid payments – e.g. have you sponsored a friend to run for charity? This could be included as HMRC provides tax relief on some charitable giving.
  4. Allow plenty of time to gather paperwork. This includes your P60 which will confirm the total tax you have paid on your employment income. You will also need a record of benefits and expenses which can be found on your P11D form. If you have left a job in the last tax year, you will also need a P45 from your previous employer.
  5. Don’t forget to make a copy of your completed tax return and keep a proof of postage, on file. If you are employed or a pensioner, please keep all paperwork for 22 months from the end of the tax year to which it relates to. If you are self-employed or letting a property, you should keep all paperwork for 5 years and 10 months.

If you have elected to submit a paper return and miss the 31st October deadline, you would usually be fined £100 for a late return. Should you have missed the deadline due to Covid-19 then HMRC may decide to remove the penalty if you lodge an appeal.

For those of you concerned about settling your tax liability (typically due by 31 January) then you should be aware that HMRC have announced that the majority of individuals can apply for the tax to be paid over 12 monthly instalments.

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